JUDGING a new leader on their first 100 days in office was first used in France, where the “cent jours” described the period between Napoleon’s return to Paris from exile and his final defeat at Waterloo.
The 100-day yardstick then became a popular measure for modern leaders after 1933 when US president Franklin Roosevelt set himself a timeline to curb the economic suffering during the Great Depression. In modern-day politics it is used as a barometer to assess a new administration’s ability to implement new policies while avoiding instability.
Using that measure, the Morrison government has failed.
The first 100 days of Scott Morrison’s prime ministership ended as they began — with chaos and disunity. The PM reaches this milestone today, void of a honeymoon those before him enjoyed. Instead, two fewer MPs are on the government’s benches and the Liberal Party seems hell bent on blowing itself up.
To Morrison’s credit he is persisting with the zeal of a schoolchild at recess. His enthusiasm and love for the job is evident, but it is unlikely to be enough to pull the government out of its poll doldrums. His burst of policy shifts, like dumping plans to raise the pension age and a $4.6 billion deal with non-government schools, was overshadowed by internal issues.
Last week he revealed the Treasurer would deliver a surplus Budget — the first since 2007-08 — on April 2. The government’s media team hoped the story would lead the nightly news, but it was toppled by the resignation of Chisholm MP Julia Banks. Labor should pack up and go home.
In October, we were given a rare glimpse of what could have been when Morrison delivered a national apology to victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse. It was an insight into his character which was rarely on show in the portfolios of Treasury and Immigration where he built his career.
But it was nothing compared with the hero’s welcome for Julia Gillard. Another day lost.
Nationally, the Liberal Party is struggling to appeal to younger voters and women. Five months until a federal election there’s almost nothing Morrison can do to fix structural problems within the party. He will have to do his best with the hand he was dealt.
If the first 100 days provided a sneak peek of the next 100 days, it’s a scenario the government would not want to repeat. ANNIKA SMETHURST IS NATIONAL POLITICS EDITOR an[email protected] @annikasmethurst